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End The Waiting Game

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Waiting for federal buyers to call your small business? Here's how to change that.

Are you waiting for small business rules and legislation changes to let you win federal business? Registered at Sam.gov, have a GSA schedule, and obtained all your certifications, and you're still waiting for "the call"?

If you’re waiting for someone else to do something for you to win federal contracts, you’re going to be waiting a long time. Here's how to change that.

The successful federal contractors call actively on their prospects long before the competition. They lead with their capabilities, differentiate from competitors, and then close the deal by whatever means the contracting officer chooses to handle the procurement -- within the rules and the protocols of that particular agency.

Dozens of FAR rules, set asides and "contracting vehicles" empower and protect contracting officers as they quickly and quietly award a project to the vendor their end users quietly wants.

The proof is in the free contracting intelligence that the federal government publishes at usaspending.gov. You can see who won, how they competed the procurement, what contracting vehicle or small business set aside they used and how many offers they received to award the contract.

How many offers…or, rather, how few! When you look at the data, you the shocking number of times the contracting team enters, "0" or "1." In a “maximum competition” environment, how does that happen?

Entirely by the rules! The rest of the data shows how they did it. Options include “unique source," "simplified acquisition," or via a contracting vehicle that was originally competed (e.g. Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity Contract or Blanket Purchasing Agreement), or “emergency need.”  

So, how does a small business defend their position as a strong solution/product provider?

Instead of churning out bids and passively hoping for orders, invest that time and energy on a more aggressive strategy. Make sure your company is top-of-mind with those buyers long before the competition begins.

What does it take? The right mix of thought leadership, whitepapers, marketing, video, networking, emails, capabilities statements and briefings, oral presentations, case studies, past performance, unsolicited proposals and yes, sales calls.

In short, you and your team need to communicate with government customers. You can do that entirely within the rules, early in the procurement cycle. That’s how you capture their attention, imagination and desire to work with you. That desire has a huge influence on what the buyer sends over to the contracting team who determined how each contract will be competed and awarded -- within the rules.

FAR 15.201  The Federal government encourages exchanges with industry before receipt of proposals!

The Federal Acquisition Regulations are on your side! FAR 15.201 say, "Exchanges of information among all interested parties, from the earliest identification of a requirement through receipt of proposals, are encouraged." 

But don't quote this to your contracting officers and customers. Use this as your team's battle cry before they hit the field, so that they know your unique innovation can be discussed well before a bid hits the streets.  Your sales and marketing team needs to know that even when they hit rejection from one federal customer, there are more to call. There are only three million potential federal customers out there and 88,000 contracting officers. Some are going to love you - and some are going to reject you. Keep calling, writing, inspiring, sharing thought leadership and someone in the government will have an "ah ha" moment and bring your unique solution into the agency quietly, "under the radar" and way before a bid hits the streets.

Want a plan that can get you in to see the right people, and make you top of mind, long before the next competition? Let’s talk. Contact Judy Bradt at (703) 627 1074(703) 627 1074 or Judy.Bradt@SummitInsight.com.

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 9:22am


Submitted by EnEm on
Hi Judy: Thank you for an informative article. I have attended Meet & Greet sessions in DC and recently I've been InMailing a Letter of Introduction to CIOs in the DC Metro Area to familiarize them with my USP and ask for a 30 minute meeting with them and their teams, but there have been no bites so far. I am a one-man-band and simply do not have the time for "thought leadership, whitepapers, marketing, video, networking, emails, capabilities statements and briefings, oral presentations, case studies, past performance, unsolicited proposals and yes, sales calls". I have applied the email/Inmail/networking approach and included my Capability Statement each time but I think this needs more than just those approaches. I'll somehow have to find the time. Thanks

Submitted by Judy Bradt on
Hi, EnEm! I notice that you said your process has been to "InMail a letter of introduction and ask for a 30 minute meeting..." Here's a suggestion: try CALLING them. Yup, just calling these people you don't know, who have never heard of you. And, instead of saying, "Here's what I do, can we meet?" think about one question that, if they answer, could tell you a bit about how they do things, and open a discussion about whether or not you know someone or something that could help them. Even if it's not a service your company provides. Start by saying, "I'm wondering if you can point me in the right direction. I'm doing some research into ****, and I'd like to know who could tell me more about how your agency does *** ". Will they invite you in right away? Maybe, maybe not. Not everybody says yes or gets interested enough to say, "Gee, that was helpful! Tell me more about you?" But try this with three of your top target agencies, and let me know what happens! No web campaign, no writing papers, no endless social media. Just person to person. Post your story here!

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